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Highlights of Chelsea 2015

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

By Tim Sykes, Design Director at Gardenproud – 20/5/15

Team members from Gardenproud had a lovely day at The Chelsea Flower Show yesterday. Albeit typical English weather, we braved the showers and enjoyed the sunshine when it came.

The intro photo is a homage to one conclusion. That that among other colours, “orange” was very much part of the planting plan for many gardens.

Interestingly this colour is in with fashion designers this year. So maybe we should all read Vogue instead of the Garden Design Journal?

Weather apart, the show was really very good.

The first garden we saw was Jo Thompson’s M&G sponsored design – The Retreat. As you’d expect as the main sponsor for the show, no expense spared here. But, Jo really did herself proud on this and it looked amazing. I particularly liked her planting and the pontoons sitting in the water looked stunning.

Jo got a Silver-Gilt for this, but in my mind she should have received a Gold.

The next garden that grabbed our attention was Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam’sLiving Legacy. This garden commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

And how poignantly they achieve this.

With their scaffold poles carefully grinded into jagged spears the scene is set for a dramatic vista.

The guys received a Silver Gilt and what can I say, a very original idea well deserving of the award.

The next garden that certainly caught my wife’s eye was HRH Prince Harry’s Lesotho inspired project, designed by Matt Keightley (Matt is of 2014 fame with his “Hope on the Horizon” garden – brilliant). Hope is still in the name – “Hope in Vulnerability”

Well another Silver-Gilt was awarded, but like Jo’s I thought this garden really deserved a Gold.

Note the orange flowers!

I’m not sure if I’m old and fuddy duddy, but I didn’t like what I call the Bus Stop garden. The planting was very nice, but the architecture and hard landscaping seemed at odds, almost disconnected. Obviously my opinion is not relevant! This is the Cloudy Bay Garden, designed by Harry and David Rich. And it got a Gold!

Very clever, but not my cup of tea.

A clear favourite for one of our team members was the Homebase garden – Urban Retreat - in Association with Macmillan Cancer Research. Designed by Adam Frost.  I have to say this was a really refreshing entry from Homebase and it definitely deserved a Gold.

Two pics on this one. Well done Adam.

In the same vain, there was another garden, a little smaller, but none the less, no less brilliant. This was in the Fresh Gardens category, designed by Ruth Willmott – The Breakthrough Breast Cancer Garden. I really liked this garden.

A high contrast looking space both in terms of the way the hard and soft landscaping co-exist. Ruth has done a great job. Helped by a superb sculpture  by Rick Kirby.

Among the smaller gardens, I was struck by the exotic beauty of the Kranji, by Esmond Landscape. This was designed by John Tan and Raymond Tah. What a wonderful inspiration for those really difficult spaces where you have a huge drop just behind the house, that needs landscaping. A waterfull. why didn’t I think of it! The contractors landform did a super job of creating the vision, and here it is….

Ah! Look another glimpse of orange.

Well a Silver-Gilt, and well deserved.

Now, I have this really annoying habit of talking to anybody, and my wife despairs. She usually walks on at flower shows and I then have to try and find where the dickens she’s gone, which is all very stressful! But there I was, transfixed by the Viking Ocean Cruises show stand and being very rude about the whole idea of cruises and this chap said, “I know what you mean!” 50 something and not wanting to admit it. I spoke to guy, who I thought was just another punter, but he could just as easily have been a carefully planted Viking salesman. Anyway he was my age and I rudely commented on the people of a certain age who frequented cruises, then he corrected me and said he thought the same. But, ” couldn’t understand why his parents always went on cruises”. Then he went on one and is hooked. So maybe we will try one! Anyway the Viking garden was very impressive.

There were lots of other gardens and some really very smart commercial stands. One particular stand I was impressed by was the A Place in the Garden Stand. These guys had some wonderful outdoor lanterns and interesting zinc oversize balls. The  mixing of which with some traditional buxus balls could look stunning..

I had a long chat and was surprisingly impressed by the reasonable pricing strategy. So look them up at www.distinctivegarden.co.uk

Ok, so this is it…..

You cannot possibly ignore the shear passion and energy that went into the Chatsworth Garden. It is an unbelievable feat of design and logistics.

Dan Pearson, the designer is a god.

He has taken a great chunk of the garden and transposed it piece by piece, low loader, by low loader and recreated it at Chelsea.

I take my hat off to his courage, persuasive manner and ability to see through such a vision.

He thoroughly deserves BEST IN SHOW!

For further information or help with designing your garden for 2015 contact Tim Sykes at Gardenproud on 07725 173820, 0r at info@reallygardenproud.com